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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Know your feed limitations.

Dairy Pipeline: November 1996

by Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
Virginia Tech

Certain alternative feeds need to be limited when fed to lactating dairy cows. These limitations are based on fat content (whole seeds), lack of"effective" fiber (wheat midds, soybean hulls, and brewers grains), inefficiently used protein (raw soybeans, distillers grains, corn gluten feed, and urea), rapidly degradable nonstructural carbohydrates (bakery waste, wheat, and barley), or palatability (fish meal and blood meal). Total fat should be limited in dairy cattle rations to a maximum of 7% of the dry matter. "Effective" fiber in rations should be ensured by feeding at least 1.5% of the dry matter as a course forage and consumption of forage neutral detergent fiber at least .75 to 1% of body weight when some alternative, nonstarchy feeds supply a portion of the fiber. Protein that is rapidly degraded in the rumen can "flood the system" and not be efficiently utilized or the reverse be so resistant to ruminal breakdown that it inefficiently digested both in the rumen and in the small intestine. Some high starch feeds are rapidly degraded in the rumen and can cause acidosis if not limited. Also many of the feeds are unpalatable at high levels. The following are commonly accepted maximums for certain feeds.

% of conc. Lbs./cow/day
Bakery Waste--- 4.0
Barley Grain30---
Blood Meal3.01.0
Brewers Grains, Dry257.0
Brewers Grains, Wet---30
Corn Gluten Meal3010
Cottonseeds, Whole---7.0
Distillers Grains, Dry257.0
Fat, Tallow or Rumen Protected4.01.5
Fish Meal3.01.0
Soybean Hulls205.0
Soybeans, Raw---4.0
Soybeans, Roasted---7.0
Wheat Grain30---
Wheat Middlings255.0

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